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Camera Obscura – “The Nights Are Cold” single (4AD)

In Recent reviews on May 30, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Camera Obscura loves to do covers. In the midst of promoting last year’s stellar “My Maudlin Career,” they tackled such tunes as Bruce Springsteen’s “Tougher Than The Rest,” Jim Reeves’ “The Blizzard,” and Gene Autry’s “You’re The Only Star In My Blue Heaven.” Top that off with the array of covers the band issued whilst promoting 2006’s “Let’s Get Out Of This Country” and their wide-ranging repertoire is solidly apparent.

Continuing in this gilded tradition of golden oldies, the Scottish indie pop darlings offer up “The Nights Are Cold,” the fifth single to be released in their “My Maudlin Career” era. The title track is a song written and originally performed by Richard Hawley on his 2001 album “Late Night Final,” an LP that Camera Obscura keys player and backup vocalist Carey Lander loved upon hearing and introduced to her bandmates, who also loved it. Fast forward eight years and they chose to cover one of their favorite songs from the record, backed with a remix of their own “The Sweetest Thing” by Hawley himself.

Under the purview of Camera Obscura’s other covers, “The Nights Are Cold” is slightly above average. This in no way means it’s a bad or, worse so, an uninteresting interpretation; it’s just that the tender, tearjerking nature of the song is afforded by Hawley’s brilliant songwriting and not so much Camera Obscura’s delivery. Like so many covers by so many other bands, the original artist’s version remains superior, though this new version is quite pleasant as well and provides a fantastic souvenir to hearing the band perform it live.

The single’s b-side, the aforementioned Richard Hawley remix of “The Sweetest Thing,” is where sparks really fly. To the untrained ear, the song sounds the same as that which was released as its own single last fall. However, Hawley’s production adds new drum and piano tracks and greater emphasis on the backing vocal, in addition to a bit of jingle bells for good measure. Though a cover by Hawley would have been far more impressive, this brand new remix is a fantastic addition to Camera Obscura’s fine catalogue and a superb supplement to whatever summer soirees come your way.

Off Key presents the Best of 2009

In Uncategorized on May 16, 2010 at 6:34 pm

I realise this is about five months past its date of publication, but the poignant commentary still holds true…

 20: Atlas Sound – “Logos” (Japanese version) (4AD):
In 2008, the demos for Bradford Cox’s second solo outing as Atlas Sound leaked onto the internet, causing the enigmatic Deerhunter frontman to throw an unbelievable hissy fit and nearly putting the kibosh on the album’s release. Fortunately for the world, the record, “Logos,” did indeed come out this year and is surprisingly better than the demos that preceded it, not to mention the project’s first album, 2007’s “Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel.” As an added bonus, the Japanese release contains four additional songs from the demo sessions tacked on at the tail end, allowing the record to rise to mesospheric heights.
Key tracks: “Walkabout,” “Quick Canal,” “Difference BT”

19: The Raveonettes – “In And Out Of Control” (Vice):
Let’s face it: The Raveonettes’ latest release, “In And Out Of Control,” isn’t their best album. However, it does contain some of the band’s best songs, displaying their special brand of heart-breaking/warming pseudo-pop and super-violence sung in the sweetest, most reverb-laden way possible. Overall, it’s another sensational Raves record, with them going back to what they did best on 2005’s “Pretty In Black” and records previous and mixing it with what they learned on 2007’s “Lust Lust Lust” and its succeeding EPs.
Key tracks: “Bang!,” “Last Dance,” “Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed),” “Suicide”

18: Julian Plenti – “Julian Plenti is… Skyscraper” (Matador):
This album is… great. But it’s no Interpol. Then again, Paul Banks (a.k.a. Julian Plenti) knows this. The songs on “Skyscraper,” his first solo outing, are miles more upbeat than anything found on his now-ridiculously-famous main project’s records. Essentially, he did what every noteworthy frontman starting a solo career should do: recorded an album that doesn’t stray too far from their original band’s sound, but altered the tone and the lyrics to reflect something new and fresh. In 2002, Banks sang “New York cares”; seven years later, this is him caring back.
Key tracks: “Only If You Run,” “Games For Days,” “Unwind”

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Greetings space travelers…

In Uncategorized on May 16, 2010 at 4:42 pm

At very long last, following a year of fan questions, queries, pleas, and federal negotiations, the fine website for nigh-legendary music column Off Key With Eric D. has been launch-ed. Stay tuned for a scintillating smattering of delectable disc- and digitally-driven dietary dishes on the most mouthwatering music of the modern era.